Pebbles W. 90cm, D. 50cm, H. 36cm

A whimsical idea to createpebbleartworksbycutting up mother-of-pearl and piecing the strips together to simulate natural stoneswas pioneered by Sohn Hyewon, the creative director of his institute. To materialize this concept, Hwang Samyong went out to the Hongcheon River in Gangwon Province. He picked up thirty small stones, among which he chose ten together with Sohn. After enlarging photos of the stones, he simulated them using the cutting technique. Once the basic concept and framework were fixed, the execution didn’t appear challenging at all to Hwang, who has spent his whole life cutting mother-of-pearl. He still had to perform many hours oftedious work, though.

This vision having been fulfilled by combining the magnified shapes of pebbles roundedand smoothed by natural forces for thousands of years with Hwang’s magnificent skills that have been polished for decades, these mother-of-pearl “pebbles”present us with exciting new possibilities for Korean mother-of-pearl crafts. Major techniques for mother-of-pearl crafts include the cutting technique, slicing technique, sawing-out techniqueandcarving technique.Hwang’s boulders are created withthe cutting technique alone.

This technique, commonly referred to as the ‘cutting-up technique’, is to cut mother-of-pearl in slender strips and put them together to embody anintended pattern. The curved surfaces of the “pebbles”are adorned in a soft and smooth manner reminding us of reeds swaying in the wind. Of the Pebble Series, the thinthread colored mother-of-pearl “boulder” that is only 0.5mm thick took 277 hours to complete, while the thickest one of 4.9 mm took 145 hours.The boulder made of black pearls took some 90 hours. The surfaces that had been lacquered were finished using classic mother-of-pearl techniques.

Biography

Born in Goseong, South Gyeongsang Province, in 1959, he joined the studio Hwang Ui-yong Gongbang of his elder brother in 1976. At this studio in Busan, he developed and refined his skills for 22 years. His work was awarded the Special Prize at the National Art Exhibition of the Handicapped in 1992. Receiving the Gold Prize in Lacquerware with Inlaid Mother-ofPearl Competition of Namyangju County for two years in a row, in 2012 and 2013, he began to stand out. Although he is especially a master artisan in cutting up mother-of-pearl into slender strips and breaking them into regular lengths, which is one of most sophisticated traditional techniques, he has long worked as a subcontractor helping-out other artists due to economic and other conditions. In the meantime, he made a constant effort to polishup his varied techniques. Since 2010, he has devoted himself to creating some 10 works with the themes of turtles, bears, 5-member tiger families, automobiles and hanok (traditional Korean houses), using his signature cutting techniques. His participation in Milan exhibition offers him the opportunity to finally have an official debut for the first time in his life. Currently, he is the representative of Yechan Craft, a studio named after his pen-name.

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